BALTIMORE (CNS) — Sister Angela Miller, a member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, is believed to have been murdered by her nephew on or before he set fire April 28 to the nun’s home in West Scranton, Pennsylvania, authorities said.
Rosemary Smith, Sister Angela’s sister and the mother of Alan Smith, was shot in the head and murdered by her son before he set the fire, according to a May 1 report in The Times-Tribune in Scranton. Alan Smith died in the blaze and officials ruled the death a suicide.
The Smiths lived on one side of a duplex home, while Sister Angela lived on the other, the newspaper reported.
Investigators searched the home for Sister Angela’s body, but failed to find it. They suspect that Sister Angela was murdered by Alan Smith sometime before he set the fire.
A search for her body was continuing May 2 after police identified what they believe could be blood in the trunk of Rosemary Smith’s car, The Times-Tribune reported.
Events unfolded as police arrived at the home to serve an emergency protection-from-abuse order and were met with a shotgun blast fired by Alan Smith after he set the fire, the newspaper reported.
Sister Angela served six years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore and associates recalled her as a fun-loving person.
Deacon Paul Mann, pastoral associate at St. Clare of Assisi Parish in Essex, Maryland, worked with Sister Angela, a popular middle-school teacher at St. Rita School in Dundalk, Maryland, from 1983 to 1986. She was also the co-moderator of the parish’s high school youth group.
“The kids loved her because she was the cool nun, the fun nun,” said Deacon Mann, who worked with the youth group with his wife Irene. “Most religious have the air of mystique about them. She would just be real.”
Father C. Lou Martin, pastor of Christ the King Parish in Glen Burnie, Maryland, was assigned to St. Rita Church when Sister Angela served there and remembered her as “the kind of person who would reach out to people on the fringe.”
“She was very energetic, just a go-get-it kind of person,” Father Martin said. “She could witness to her vocation.”
The Manns said Sister Angela was devoted to her family.
“She asked permission not to live in a convent (in Scranton) so she could take care of her parents,” Irene Mann said. “She stayed there after they died.”
In a May 1 statement, Sister Ellen Maroney, president of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, said the community was “deeply grieved at the horrific and heartbreaking situation which took the lives of our Sister Angela Miller; her sister, Rose Smith, our employee at the IHM Center for 17 years; and her son, Alan.”
Sister Ellen noted that for more than 15 years, the sisters have worked to raise awareness to the tragedy of domestic violence.
“We unite with all who refuse to be numbed by tragedy,” she said, “but instead use their grief energy to work for the fullness of compassion and justice.”
Matysek is digital editor for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
In a time of crisis CatholicPhilly.com keeps the information flowing
During the current coronavirus crisis, you can help CatholicPhilly.com deliver the kind of news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live ― every day.
Budgets are tight at this time, and CatholicPhilly's is no different than those of most families. We make sure your donation in any amount will go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103